Accommodation Claims

Following a serious injury many individuals’ homes are not suitable for their needs and they must look to buy a specially adopted property, or one which can be adapted.

Very often larger bathrooms, wide passageways, accessible entrances and appropriate access to upper floors are needed.

For the last three decades the law regarding accommodation claims has been unfavourable towards injured individuals. This was because of the way that accommodation loss claims were calculated. The calculation resulted in an award that was less than what was needed to purchase the property. This meant that an injured person would have to dip into funds meant to meet their other needs to pay the difference. In 2017 when the discount rate (a rate, set by the Government, used to calculate a claimant’s damages to account for the early receipt of future financial losses) became negative the method of calculating accommodation claims resulted in a nil figure being awarded.

On 9 October 2020 the situation improved somewhat when the decision in Swift v Carpenter [2020] EWCA Civ 1295 (“Swift”) was handed down. The Court Appeal adopted a new approach to the calculation of accommodation loss. The approach adopted was to award the injured person the additional capital they required to purchase the property less the reversionary interest (i.e. any additional monetary benefit that arises when the Claimant no longer requires the property. For example, a “windfall” that may arise form an increase in the value of the property).

What this means from a damages perspective is that essentially the extra money awarded to fund a suitable property must depreciate in value over time and that the end value must be deducted from an award of damages as it would otherwise be an overpayment.

In Swift an extra £900,000 was needed to buy a suitable property and the Court determined that a rate of 5% per annum over the lifetime of the injured person of 45.43 years was appropriate. Based on the new method of calculation, instead of having to find £900,000 from other funds in order to purchase a suitable property, the injured person had to find £98,087. The previous position would have produced nil award for the Claimant.

However, the Swift calculation does not work in all circumstances. The situation for injured children and those with a short life expectancy remains unclear. For example, in those cases where the injured individual has a short life expectancy the above calculation would produce a figure that would fall significantly short of the capital sum needed to purchase the property out right.

In the Swift case the Court accepted that there were some limitations to the formula used and that in some cases a different approach would be needed to achieve full compensation for the injured person. Promisingly, the Court emphasised that the principle of fair and reasonable compensation is of paramount importance.

All personal injury claims are pursued on a No Win No Fee basis so you can rest assured that there is no financial risk.

To begin a personal injury compensation claim or obtain further advice with no obligation contact Sintons 24/7.